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India: Hospitals face oxygen shortage amid record cases

Prime Minister Modi chairs high-level meeting as country faces deadly 2nd wave

Ahmad Adil   | 22.04.2021
India: Hospitals face oxygen shortage amid record cases

NEW DELHI

Hospitals in various parts of India have raised alarm over depleting oxygen supplies for patients amid a record surge in coronavirus cases.

A total of 314,835 daily infections were registered in the country on Thursday -- the highest single-day tally in the world since the start of the pandemic.

Meanwhile, deaths over the past 24 hours rose by 2,104.

This brings the nationwide case count to 15.93 million, the second-highest in the world, with the death toll reaching 184,657, according to the Health Ministry.

As crowds form outside hospitals filled to capacity in major cities, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday held a high-level meeting to review the oxygen supply situation across the country.

“Against the present demand from 20 states of 6,785 MT/ day of Liquid Medical Oxygen, Government of India has from 21st April, allocated 6,822 MT/ day to these states,” said a statement issued from the prime minister's office after the meeting.

During the meeting, it was discussed that the country's railways is being used to transport oxygen cylinders and empty cylinders are also being airlifted.


Overwhelmed health care

The country's health care system is overwhelmed, with several doctors publicly expressing the helpless state of affairs.

“We have 233 COVID patients admitted of which 75% are surviving solely on oxygen. We have only 1-1.5 hours of oxygen left. We are not able to understand what to do next….my teams are moving from one place to another trying to arrange…we are helpless,” Dr. Kousar Shah, the chief operating officer of Aakash Healthcare in Delhi, said on Thursday in a video message.

“Fortis Hospital in Haryana [state] has only 45 minutes of oxygen left,” Fortis Healthcare, a top-notch hospital, tweeted late Thursday afternoon.

Dr. Ritu Vohra, group medical director of Kailash Health Care, which has hospitals in the northern Uttar Pradesh state, told Anadolu Agency that they had to stop admissions on Thursday due to a shortage of oxygen supply.

“We are not getting oxygen as per our demand in our four hospitals. Today, for the first time, we stopped taking patients which was a difficult decision for us. We have reached out to all the authorities, but we are not getting the required supply…we are feeling helpless in a way that if we have more supply, we would be able to save more patients,” she said.

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